Honestly? No. But there’s a caveat. I think the location has a lot to do with job satisfaction. I’m in California and almost every meeting has people with litigation in mind.
The field has changed a lot since I was first educated in the early 80s. At that time, parents were really appreciative of the work that we were doing with their children. They loved the success of their children. They loved that we were able to exit out their children after successful therapy.
With that in mind, I remember that my schedule was really hard. I had 90 children on my caseload, when I entered my first school, because California doesn’t place a maximum on the number of students that each therapist can serve in a school. I worked 14 hour days and at least one weekend day per week. It wreaks havoc with a family.
I was a wife and a young mother such that a school schedule was supposedly better for me and my family. I had had lots of clinical experience in hospitals prior to working a school schedule.
When I worked the hospitals, my major hazard was having to dress very professionally and risk blood, bile, or urine on my lab coat.
When I worked in the schools, I was punched, kicked, bitten, had my glasses broken by students with a diagnosis that is very prevalent now. I’ve been yelled at, screamed at, threatened by parents and attorneys; this, despite the fact that their children always indicated that they felt comfortable, welcomed and safe in my therapy room with my activities, games, reinforcers, stickers, positivity, creativity, birthday and graduation-from-speech parties etc.
These litigious parents always acknowledged that “coming to speech” was one of their children’s “favorite things to do at school”.
My husband was very upset when I left the local district, in which we lived in, to work for other districts, outside of a normal commute time.
He didn’t understand that my district offered no support to the speech therapists with everyone busy trying to sue us.
The local “award-winning district” didn’t have a budget for strong attorneys so they complied with everything that the parents asked for, even if it adversely impacted other students. We had to take out our own malpractice insurance to save our homes.
I studied for four years as an undergrad and four years in my masters program which required a thesis and research. I also had an additional two years of study, in augmentative communication and bilingual education yet I was on a teacher salary pay scale.
The hospital salary was not that much better. My last job, working for an agency, I procured that job in less than an hour. All of my paperwork was uploaded to his computer. He checked my record, with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. If I ever want to return, he said he would take me back in a heartbeat. The job prospects are good; they’re begging for speech pathologists/therapists.
When I retired in early 2020, my salary was still three times less than what my husband earned, and 2 times less than what my daughter earns in computer engineering.
I actually loved what I did and how I was able to transform families, but the stress, the documentation/paperwork, the lack of sleep, the quality of life that I had as a therapist was not good. I averaged 3 hours of sleep a night and still cannot sleep all the way through the night. I developed hypertension, and I actually left and retired early for my health. I could afford to do that because my husband’s salary was so much better than mine. But I have colleagues, still in the field, who cant afford to retire in California.
This was more than you wanted to hear and maybe it’s just specific to my story, but my colleagues have reached out to me and have echoed the same feelings.
Your daughter needs to shadow someone and really get involved in asking about how many hours are spent on reports, meetings, documentation, etc. because she won’t just have cute little pediatric preschoolers, she will have a little bit of everything in this field. If that’s what she wants, then she’s going to have to front a lot of money to have a private practice involving state and local licensing, insurance billing, labor and office costs.